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Günther Hasinger

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From the Director

The Institute for Astronomy is not immune to the budgetary challenges of the University of Hawai‘i as a whole. In recent years, the state legislature has cut the appropriations for UH. The university had to pass on these cuts to the colleges, departments, and research institutes. For this fiscal year, which began July 1, IfA has to cope with a budget reduction of $320,000. This reduction, together with union salary increases and other costs, impacts IfA’s budget by over $500,000. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that NASA has finally awarded funds to support the completion of the second Pan-STARRS telescope, which together with the generous private donation we received at the end of last year will allow PS2 to start operations soon. We very much hope that NASA will also provide funds to operate the Pan-STARRS PS1 and PS2 telescopes in the coming years. The highly successful PS1 first science mission, which began in May 2010 and will end in February 2014, has been supported by the international PS1 Science Consortium, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. PS1 and PS2 will start the second Pan-STARRS mission in March 2014. Together PS1 and PS2 will be by far the most powerful wide-field imaging system in existence and will continue the search for near-Earth asteroids that may pose a threat to our planet.

In the meantime, our own 2.2-meter (88-inch) telescope, one of the oldest telescopes on Mauna Kea, has become our child of sorrow, with many of the old subsystems slowly dying and needing to be replaced or repaired. We have had to defer maintenance and refurbishment of this telescope for many years. Now we hope to obtain some funding from the state and the university for the most urgent upgrades. It is our hope that the 2.2-meter will play a central role in our strategy for the future, as a test bed for new detector development and adaptive optics technology, and also as a reliable workhorse for scientists and students. We have recently received good news in this regard: The National Science Foundation will fund a test bed for an advanced, wide-field ground layer AO system for the 2.2-meter telescope.

We are also planning several new initiatives for the coming year, and we are hoping to raise funds for them. These include new astronomy and astrophysics undergraduate majors at UH Mānoa that, when combined with the existing UH Hilo program, will make UH one of the leading producers of astronomers in the United States; a replacement for the Hōkū Kea Observatory, a 36-inch telescope on Mauna Kea, that will be used by the undergraduate majors; a partnership status for UH in the Thirty Meter Telescope to be built on Mauna Kea; a small robotic telescope on Haleakalā for K–12 education and outreach; and increased outreach to schools and the public.

Your donations to the IfA Advancement Fund of the UH Foundation can make these plans a reality. If you would like to hear more about these opportunities, please contact our outreach coordinator, Dr. Roy Gal at

This newsletter is available in pdf format. Use “shrink to fit” or “shrink to printable area” setting for printer.

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Comet ISON Viewing

IfA will sponsor viewing opportunities on O‘ahu just before sunrise in late November at a location on the windward side. For exact times and places, check the IfA website, or our Facebook page or Twitter feed (UHIfA). To get on our special events mailing list, send an email to For events on Hawai‘i island, see the website of the Mauna Kea Astronomy Outreach Committee.



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Upcoming Events

Tuesday, October 29, Frontiers of Astronomy Community Event, Nicholas McConnell, IfA Beatrice Watson Parrent Postdoctoral Fellow, “Monsters in the Dark: Supermassive Black Holes and Their Destructive Habits,” 7:30 p.m., UH Mānoa Art Building Auditorium (room 132). Free Admission (Campus Parking $6).

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